The history of the Java programming language

computer, programming, Java, technology, Jamie Mercer, Kettle Mag
Written by j.mercer

Unless you have been living under a rock, you will surely have heard of the Java programming language. As Java turns 22 years old this week, we take a quick look back through the history of the language to see just how far it has come.

It started in 1990 when, frustrated with C and C++, Sun Microsystem developers decided to create their own object-orientated programming language that would be easy to port to all different types of devices.

The new language, then named Oak after the tree that was planted outside of James Gosling’s office window, took 18-months to develop, as part of the Green Project.

The first private demonstration of the language involved building a personal digital assistant called Star7. The device, of which only four or five were rumoured to have been made, also featured a helpful assistant called “Duke” who would become the mascot of Java.

Overcoming a setback

The Green Project changed name to Firstperson and began to focus on the TV industry and when Time Warner was looking for interactive set-top boxes the team pitched an entire set-top box platform. TV experts worried that this would put too much control in the hands of the users and the project did not go ahead.

After this setback, the team decided to combine their efforts on the emerging World Wide Web. They thought that the Internet – now with graphical web browsers – could provide them with the opportunity to create the interactive content they were interested in with their work on TV set-top boxes.

After a legal challenge from Oak Technology, a new name was needed for the language and the platform. After a lengthy meeting, during which developer James Gosling says every word in the dictionary was yelled out and facilitators were asking how they felt about words, the team settled on Java. Runners up included Silk and DNA.

Java would see its first public launch at the SunWorld conference event on May 23, 1995. The first Java Development Kit, JDK 1.0, was unveiled in January 1996.

Since 2002, the Java Community Process has been in charge of the overall evolution of the platform, with Java Specification Requests specifying alterations to the platform.

So be sure to raise a toast to Java, the unsung hero of everyday technology. Happy Birthday, Java!